Hornish all smiles after productive test at Lowe's, family fun on the lake

5/8/2008 - NASCAR

The Lowe's test was definitely worthwhile. Last year, we went there and tried to qualify for the Cup race. We had been to Atlanta in the Busch car and Kentucky quite a bit in the Cup cars, the COT cars, the ARCA cars and Busch cars, so we thought we'd have a pretty good shot because we were close to Kurt Busch's and Ryan Newman's times. But when we went to Charlotte and saw how much different it is there because they run a different tire, it was an eye-opening thing. When I found out they were going to have this Lowe's test, I was pretty excited about it. We only had 30 laps there last year, and I got more than 200 during the test.

There were a number of things we worked on, but one of the biggest changes was that we started trying to adopt some of the things that Kurt and Ryan had been doing differently. Because we had been doing a fair amount of stuff with the Nationwide program, we didn't have time to test the Cup car as much as we wanted. This test was an opportunity to put some of those things on the car and try them out. We were really happy to have that test. We feel like we would have been better at other races if we had just been able to do those different things to the car then that we can now.

One of the very frustrating aspects about going to tests early in the season is that after we'd run the first lap of the test, we couldn't get any quicker. We actually seemed to get slower when we changed things. But we found time over the two days at Lowe's, and we were happy with how we ran.

I didn't see Denny Hamlin limping into Lowe's after a pickup basketball injury. I don't have anything in my contract with Penske Racing that says I can't do certain things away from the track, but I'd have to look through my personal insurance policy. Roger's feeling is, you know you shouldn't be doing what you shouldn't be doing. I don't snow ski, for instance, because I'm not good about resisting the urge to try to do tricks.

On Sunday I went out on the lake with a couple of the guys from the Penske IndyCar team. Crystal went with me and we took Addie out on the boat. The guys and I went bare-board wake surfing. You don't use a rope, and you surf in the wake of the boat, which is going 5 mph, so if you fall, it's not that big a deal. The wave is probably two-and-a-half to three-feet high. That was the first time I had done anything other than Jet Ski since I was 12. I was a little sore the next day because I was using muscles I hadn't used in a while, but it was a lot of fun.

Sam Hornish Jr., 28, drives the No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge Charger. He will take ESPN.com readers inside his life on and off the track each week with the help of writer Angelique S. Chengelis.